38 Balanced meal ideas for athletes

Posted on October 4, 2017 by

A ‘balanced’ meal for an athlete is hugely important for both training and competition, so it’s a good idea to know what types of things you can cook that will give you what’s required. Below you’ll find a number of excellent ideas for balanced meals across breakfast, lunch & dinner.

Balanced meals provide athletes with:

  • Carbohydrates for energy to help prepare and recover from training
  • Protein to help repair and replenish muscle damage
  • Fats for long term energy and joint lubrication AND
  • Vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and well


Some athletes can get stuck eating the same food combination because they know it’s good and balanced, but then they get bored of their food and lack variety in their diet.

So if you find yourself wondering what else you can eat, build your meals by including a food from each of these four key groups:

  • lean protein +
  • high fibre carbohydrates +
  • nutrients/vegetables +
  • small amounts of fats

Below is are some examples of how to mix and match different combinations of carbs, proteins, vegetables and fats to increase your variety of balanced meal options at breakfast, lunch and dinner or give something new a try.

Note that portion size and ratios of each group will vary depending on body size, goals and activity level.


Breakfast Ideas

  1. Wholegrain/high fibre cereal + low fat milk or protein enriched milk alternative
  2. Wholegrain toast + low fat cheese – sliced, cottage, ricotta and tomato.
  3. Fruit toast + low fat ricotta or fruit yoghurt
  4. Grain toast + shaved ham + tomato and mushrooms + avocado
  5. Wholegrain toast + eggs (poached/ scrambled/boiled) + Spinach + Avocado
  6. Porridge + low fat milk or natural yoghurt + crushed nuts or pepitas
  7. Bircher muesli + natural yoghurt + berries
  8. French toast + avocado + vege sides
  9. Smoothie with fresh fruit + natural yoghurt or protein powder + spinach/kale (or any other veg)
  10. Grain toast + baked beans and slice cheese
  11. Omlette with spinach and mushrooms + toast or 125ml 100% fruit juice
  12. Grain toast + peanut butter or vegemite + a tub of yoghurt or an approved protein shake
  13. Green vege bowl with roast sweet potato and sautéed kale + poached eggs + flaked almonds


Lunch Ideas

  1. Sandwiches on grain bread + lean meat + salad + avocado – mix and match for endless combinations
  2. Wrap + lean meat or cheese + salad or leftover cooked veges (who says you cant put broccoli in a wrap)
  3. Garden salad + sweet potato + cold cuts of meat or grilled chicken + drizzle olive oil
  4. Pasta salads filled mostly with vegetables + chicken or tuna (avoid versions with creamy dressings)
  5. Sushi with grilled chicken, or salmon + some seaweed salad or edamame on the side
  6. Garden salad + roast veges + mixed lentils or legumes + chopped almonds
  7. Brown rice, cous cous or quinoa salad + fresh or roast veges + lean meat eaten cold
  8. Baked potato + baked beans or legumes + salad + avocado
  9. Vegetable soup + ham and cheese toastie
  10. Wholegrain toast + hommus + avocado + cherry tomato and fetta + dukka sprinkle


Dinner Ideas

  1. Grilled lean meat + chargrilled vegetables or salad + baked potatoes OR crusty bread to serve
  2. Stir fry vegetables + chicken, beef or pork + noodles or rice cooked with coconut oil
  3. Tomato and roasted vegetable pasta + chicken (use leftovers or BBQ chicken)
  4. Tuna in olive oil stirred through pasta + green beans or other veges
  5. Slow cooked casseroles with potatoes and vegetables – all in one
  6. Egg frittata with sliced sweet potato + zucchini, capsicum and feta cheese
  7. Spaghetti Bolognese with a salad on the side or loads of veges included in the sauce
  8. Lasagna made with low fat cheese or ricotta and salad to serve, or include veges in the layers
  9. Potato pie with a minced beef or pork and vege base + extra vege to serve
  10. Curries made with lean meat, light coconut milk, lots of vegetables and basmati rice
  11. Grilled fish with baked potatoes and steamed broccoli and asparagus
  12. Homemade pizza using a wrap for the base + zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, tomato, spinach, mushrooms + some leftover lean meat and small amount cheese
  13. Homemade burger using a wholemeal bread roll + homemade rissole + salad vegetables + hommus or avocado as a sauce
  14. Burrito bowls with lean mince or lentil sauce, and cheese + rice or corn + tomato, onion, capsicum, + guacamole
  15. Lentil dahl with light coconut milk + snow pea, bok choy, eggplant + basmati rice or crusty bread


Make extra serves of pasta, curries and casseroles and freeze for a convenient balanced meal to eat later.


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HI, is it possible to make a healthy lunch with just bread, one type of veggies (like carrot etc), egg and cheese (occasionally) due to low budgeting? Do you have any recipes recommendations for low-budget meals that does not include sauces except tomato and chill sauce? I also hope that the method you might recommend to cook the food, is simple and healthy.

with regards,

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